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Watching the dishes 

To Kyle Shaw,

Let me see if I understand the logic you're using in your editorial "Channelling God" (April 19). Ahmed Assal comes to Canada with his family. He is treated courteously. Rather than appreciating this and reciprocating, he interprets it to mean, "Everything here is freedom." Assal and his family move into a condo where he is well aware that the by-laws do not allow satellite dishes. No matter, according to Assal, "Canadians get laws changed." Of course, Assal doesn't actually try to change the by-law before installing his dish, he simply violates the by-law that he agreed to and has a "huge" dish plunked, not in his backyard, but in the condominium's communal backyard. After all, Assal needs "professionals" to explain his religion to him, and be damned what the by-laws say. The condo corporation doesn't go out and dismantle the dish as they have the right to do; they respectfully send a letter to Assal asking him to comply with the by-law.

Assal trots off to the Human Rights Commission because this is clearly a violation of his religious freedom. Of course, he didn't make this complaint before having his dish installed, when he could have changed the laws before violating them. Lo and behold, the HRC rendered a decision and Assal's claim was dismissed! What is remarkable here is that apparently only you and Assal are the ones who didn't know what the decision would be. Well, maybe only you. Because, in your words, apparently Assal's Human Rights Commission complaint was a "bluff." So Assal used the time, money and efforts of his host country to mislead the HRC. Nice.

Some advice for Assal and family. If a religion requires professionals to explain it: find a new religion. In your case, begin with the basics: honour the agreements you make with others and treat your neighbours with decency and respect as they do you.

We live in fragile times. To maintain a semblance of decency we all have to be mindful of those around us and take special care not to trample on others. Assal acted like a bull in a china shop, operating under the guise of a naive immigrant. And when he was called to task for his conduct he immediately went for the "religion card"—one of the most inflammatory things one can do. Shame on him.

By John Smith

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